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History Comes to Life for Eastchester Students

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – The past became the present for Eastchester students Thursday, as fourth-graders at the Greenvale School celebrated at their Colonial American Fair.

Teacher-artists from American Games Inc. went to the school to give students a taste of Colonial living. Students dressed up in their finest Colonial garb and were introduced to candle-making, tin-smithing, Colonial toys and games, food from the era, stenciling and historic music.

The Colonial American Fair ties in with the students’ curriculum, said Karen Walsh, chairman of the event.

“We hope that this will give the students a better understanding of what life was in Colonial America,” she said. “Maybe it will also give them a better appreciation for what they have today.”

Students went from station to station, where the teacher-artists showed them aspects of Colonial living in seven workshops. Students sang the choruses of “Away Joe,” a sea shanty, and were taught how to tin-smith, the art of making and repairing things made of light-colored metal. Students played pickup sticks and did tongue twisters, just as children did in the 1700s.

The teacher-artists demonstrated how difficult cooking was by churning butter and explaining several preservation traditions. The event culminated in the Virginia Reel dance, where the students were taught traditional square-dance moves.

Greenvale does an educationally beneficial event such as this for each grade that ties in to what they are learning in class, Walsh said.

“We try to do a focal event for each grade. The kids are totally engaged. They were singing, pickling vegetables and asking very thoughtful questions,” she said. “They’re living the Colonial life in Eastchester for a day.”

Teacher-artist Mike Hollis, who showed the toys and games to the students, said this is a valuable way to teach history.

“The kids were amazing. They were great compared to a lot of other places,” he said. “Usually at schools the majority of kids absolutely love it. It’s a good way to learn about Colonial times."

The fair was funded through the PTA, with a contribution from the state because it was an educational event. This is one of the bigger events at the school, and it has been staged for more than a decade, PTA President-elect Christie McCloskey said.

“It’s all about bringing the spirit of American history to Eastchester,” she said.

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